New York County District Attorney

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District Attorney of New York County
District Attorney Vance at a June 2011 press conference
Cy Vance

since January 1, 2010
The office operates out of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse at 1 Hogan Place (100 Centre Street)
The DA also operates out of the Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building on 80 Centre Street (141 Worth Street).

The New York County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for New York County (Manhattan), New York. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York state laws. (Federal law violations in Manhattan are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York). The current District Attorney is Cyrus Vance, Jr.


In the legislative act of February 5, 1796, New York State was divided into seven districts which had each an Assistant Attorney General, except New York County where Attorney General Josiah Ogden Hoffman prosecuted personally until 1801.[1]

From 1801 to 1813, New York County was part of the First District which included the then existing counties of New York, Suffolk, Queens, Kings, Richmond and Westchester (now comprising the area of Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Staten Island, Westchester and Suffolk). In 1813, Westchester Co. was redistricted to a new district with Rockland and Putnam counties. In 1815, New York County was excluded from the First District and became the Twelfth District, at the time the only one consisting of a single county. In 1818, all 13 districts were broken up, and every county in the State of New York became a separate district.

From 1874 to 1895, the County of New York included the West Bronx, and from 1895 to 1913 all of what is today the County of Bronx, governing the same area as does the present Borough of the Bronx.[2] Since January 1, 1914, the boundaries of New York County have been identical to those of the Borough of Manhattan.

Until 1822, the district attorney was appointed by the Council of Appointment, and held the office "during the Council's pleasure", meaning that there was no defined term of office.

Under the provisions of the State Constitution of 1821, the D.A. was appointed to a three-year term by the Court of General Sessions.[1]

Under the provisions of the State Constitution of 1846, the office became elective by popular ballot.[1] The term was three years, beginning on January 1 and ending on December 31. In case of a vacancy, the Governor of New York filled the vacancy temporarily until a successor was elected, always to a full term, at the next annual election. An acting D.A. was appointed by the Court of General Sessions pending the Governor's action.

The Consolidation Charter of 1896 extended the term of the incumbent John R. Fellows—who had been elected in 1893 to a three-year term (1894–96)—by a year, and since the City election of 1897, the D.A.'s term coincides with the Mayor's term, being four years long.[3] In case of a vacancy, a special election is held for the remainder of the term, if any.

District Attorneys[edit]

District Attorney Took office Left office Party Notes
Richard Riker[4] August 19, 1801 February 13, 1810 Dem.-Rep.
Cadwallader D. Colden[4] February 13, 1810 February 19, 1811 Federalist
Richard Riker[4] February 19, 1811 March 5, 1813 Dem.-Rep.
Barent Gardenier[4] March 5, 1813 March 31, 1815 Federalist
John Rodman[5] March 31, 1815 January 28, 1817 Dem.-Rep.
Hugh Maxwell[5] January 28, 1817 June 11, 1818 Dem.-Rep.
Pierre C. Van Wyck[6] June 11, 1818 February 13, 1821
Hugh Maxwell[6] February 13, 1821 May 1829 Dem.-Rep. in 1821 the last D.A. appointed by the Council of Appointment; re-appointed by the Court of General Sessions in 1823 and 1826 (two terms)
Ogden Hoffman[6] May 1829 May 22, 1835 Democratic two terms
Thomas Phoenix[6] May 22, 1835 June 4, 1838
James R. Whiting[6] June 4, 1838 June 10, 1844 Democratic two terms
Matthew C. Paterson[6] June 10, 1844 January 26, 1846 died in office
John McKeon[6] February 6, 1846 December 31, 1850 Democratic in 1846 the last D.A. appointed by the Court of General Sessions; in 1847 the first D.A. elected by popular ballot; elected at the judicial State election of May 1847 to a term of three years and a half
N. Bowditch Blunt[6] January 1, 1851 July 17, 1854 Whig died in office during his second term
Lorenzo B. Shepard (appointed)[6] July 25, 1854 December 31, 1854 Democratic appointed by Governor Horatio Seymour to fill vacancy
A. Oakey Hall[6] January 1, 1855 December 31, 1857 Whig
Peter B. Sweeny[6] January 1, 1858 October 5, 1858 Democratic resigned because of ill health
Joseph Blunt (appointed)[6] October 1858 December 31, 1858 Republican appointed by Governor John A. King to fill vacancy
Nelson J. Waterbury[6] January 1, 1859 December 31, 1861 Democratic
A. Oakey Hall[6] January 1, 1862 December 31, 1868 Republican second tenure; resigned during his fourth term to take office as Mayor of New York City
Samuel B. Garvin (appointed, then elected)[6] January 1869
December 31, 1869
January 1, 1869
December 31, 1872
Democratic appointed by Governor John T. Hoffman to fill vacancy; then elected to a full term
Benjamin K. Phelps[6] January 1, 1873 December 30, 1880 Republican died in office during his third term
Daniel G. Rollins (acting, then appointed)[6] January 3, 1881
January 10, 1881
January 10, 1881
December 31, 1881
Republican as Assistant D.A. appointed temporarily by the Court of General Sessions; on January 10, appointed by Governor Alonzo B. Cornell to fill vacancy
John McKeon[6] January 1, 1882 November 22, 1883 Democratic second tenure; died in office
John Vincent (acting)[6] November 22, 1883 November 30, 1883 Democratic as one of four Assistant D.A.s, was appointed by the Court of General Sessions to act until the appointment of a successor
Wheeler H. Peckham (appointed)[6] November 30, 1883 December 9, 1883 Democratic appointed by Governor Grover Cleveland to fill vacancy; then resigned due to ill health
Peter B. Olney (appointed)[6] December 10, 1883 December 31, 1884 Democratic appointed by Governor Cleveland to fill vacancy
Randolph B. Martine[6] January 1, 1885 December 31, 1887 Democratic
John R. Fellows[6] January 1, 1888 December 31, 1890 Democratic
De Lancey Nicoll[6] January 1, 1891 December 31, 1893 Democratic
John R. Fellows January 1, 1894 December 7, 1896 Democratic second term; elected to a three-year term (1894–96), had his term extended by a year so that the D.A. and the Mayor and other City officers would be elected together in odd-numbered years, but died in office shortly before his extra year began
Vernon M. Davis (acting) December 7, 1896 December 19, 1896 Democratic as the senior Assistant D.A., was appointed by the Court of General Sessions to act until the appointment of a successor by the Governor
William M.K. Olcott (appointed) December 19, 1896 December 31, 1897 Republican appointed by Governor Levi P. Morton to fill vacancy
Asa Bird Gardiner January 1, 1898 December 22, 1900 Democratic first D.A. elected to a four-year term under the Consolidation Charter, then removed from office by Governor Theodore Roosevelt due to corruption charges
Eugene A. Philbin (appointed) December 22, 1900 December 31, 1901 Democratic appointed by Governor Roosevelt to fill vacancy
George W. Schurman (acting)[7][8] January 1, 1902 appointed by Mayor Low until Jerome was sworn in
William T. Jerome January 2, 1902 December 31, 1909 Fusion/Ind. two terms; elected in 1901 on a Fusion ticket nominated by Anti-Tammany Democrats, Republicans and the Citizens Union; re-elected in 1905 as an Independent, nominated by the Republican Party too late to appear as such on the ballot
Charles S. Whitman January 1, 1910 December 31, 1914 Republican resigned to take office as Governor of New York during his second term
Charles A. Perkins (appointed) January 1915 December 31, 1915 Republican appointed by Governor Whitman to fill vacancy; defeated by Swann in special election
Edward Swann January 1, 1916 December 31, 1921 Democratic won special election for the remainder of Whitman's second term; then re-elected to a full term
Joab H. Banton January 1, 1922 December 31, 1929 Democratic two terms
Thomas C. T. Crain January 1, 1930 December 31, 1933 Democratic
William C. Dodge January 1, 1934 December 31, 1937 Democratic
Thomas E. Dewey January 1, 1938 December 31, 1941 Republican,
American Labor,
City Fusion[9]
Frank S. Hogan January 1, 1942 February 5, 1974 Democratic tendered his resignation on December 26, 1973, but remained in office until the appointment of a successor on February 5, 1974, shortly after beginning his ninth term[10]
Richard Kuh (appointed) February 5, 1974 December 31, 1974 Democratic appointed by Governor Malcolm Wilson to fill vacancy; defeated by Morgenthau in Democratic primary for special election
Robert M. Morgenthau January 1, 1975 December 31, 2009 Democratic won special election for the remainder of Hogan's ninth term; then re-elected eight times; longest serving DA for New York County
Cyrus Vance, Jr. January 1, 2010 Incumbent Democratic

In popular culture[edit]

The long-running television series Law & Order and its spin-offs depict the prosecution of criminal suspects by lawyers of the New York County District Attorney's office. The District Attorneys depicted in the franchise are Adam Schiff, Nora Lewin, Arthur Branch and Jack McCoy.


  1. ^ a b c Chester, Alden; Weeks, Lyman Horace; Dougherty, John Hampden (1911). Legal and Judicial History of New York. National Americana Society. 
  2. ^ Geoffrey Hermalyn and Lloyd Ultan, "Bronx" in The Encyclopedia of New York City (1st edition), edited by Kenneth T. Jackson, New York Historical Society and Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1995, ISBN 0-300-05536-6, page 140.
  3. ^ Except 1901 to 1905, when the D.A.'s term was four years, but two mayors served a two-year term each.
  4. ^ a b c d Werner, Edgar A. (1891). Civil List and Constitutional History of the Colony and State of New York. Albany, N.Y.: Weed, Parsons, and Company. pp. 553–563. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  5. ^ a b (1891), p. 554.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x (1891), p. 558.
  7. ^ "Mr. Schurman Will Act — To be District Attorney from Midnight Until Justice Jerome Is Sworn In". New York Times. December 31, 1901. p. 14. Retrieved 21 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Mr. Jerome Was Not Sworn In — New York Without an Official District Attorney Yesterday — Justices of the Supreme Court Had All Gone Home When He Was Ready to Take the Oath". New York Times. January 2, 1902. p. 2. Retrieved 21 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "Thomas E. Dewey Is Dead at 68". New York Times. March 17, 1971. p. 1. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "Hogan, District Attorney 32 Years, Dies". New York Times. April 3, 1974. Retrieved 2013-11-29. Frank S. Hogan, the shy, courteous lawyer who became a legend in 32 years as Manhattan's District Attorney, died yesterday at St. Luke's Hospital. Mr. Hogan was 72 years old and lived at 404 Riverside Drive. 

External links[edit]